Should you share, spend money on, or promote all of your affiliates’ content? No way! But it does make sense to promote affiliate content if you have a value adding affiliates in your affiliate program.
Value adding affiliates are affiliates that do not rely on your own brand or your own website to have traffic. They have their own audience and do not drive traffic mostly from brand reviews, have browser extensions, or optimize for your brand + coupons in Google through SEO or PPC.
Here are five situations where driving traffic to top-funnel affiliate content can grow your business, build your brand, increase your funnel, and drive customer acquisition.
But first, here’s the common objections I get to this:
- Affiliates make commissions, why should I spend money on them?
- They got product, they need to promote it, not us.
- We have to focus on ambassadors and influencers, we don’t have budget or time.
Each of these objections are answered below. This content was previously only available to our clients and team, but I want to give back to a community that has given me a lot, so I’m sharing it.
Get Media Fees Waived and be Included in More Non-Branded Content
When top funnel partners make money in your affiliate program, they’re more likely to create more solution oriented content that builds brand awareness by demonstrating your products as solutions.
If your product cis used to patch a leaking pipe, style hair, or bake a pie in content and without using your brand; this content introduces you as a solution to new customers and gives the person a reason to shop with you. Just make sure the content does not have your brand name in the title, description, headers or other intercepting methods.
Advertising this content is a great way to open the lines of communication with the partner. As your partner sees their subscribers grow and their affiliate sales climb, they know you’re serious about the relationship. And it gives them a reason to include in more non-branded content without a media fee.
Pro-tip: I use this same strategy to get partners to link to our clients instead of Amazon and other marketplaces.
Because the partner knows we’re going to do what it takes to help them succeed, and they can make more money by including us rather than getting a one time fee for one piece of content.
Advertising and sharing affiliate content instead of or in addition to ambassador and affiliate content gives content creators a reason to keep creating top-funnel content. You save money, build relationships, and are setting your company up for long term success.
On top of this, once an affiliate begins making money and seeing the long term value of your program, they’re going to put the work in to optimize for long term success. Influencers and ambassadors just have to do the minimum from your agreement, and once this is done there is no reason to continue optimizing, so the value to your brand is limited. But you don’t want to stop there. You have to follow up.
After the content goes live and sales come in, we normally email something like “The blackberry pie video was amazing, but I noticed you don’t have a rhubarb one. Rhubarb converts 5% higher than blackberry and has 5,000 people searching Google/YouTube each month. Do any interest in creating a similar post/video and featuring our pie pans again?”
By doing this you give the content creator topically relevant ideas to help grow their audience and make money. And best of all, you can forecast the potential revenue for both the affiliate and your company. It is a win for everyone!
Build Your Brand
Reviews are great, but once the initial review is done the review becomes parasitic to your brand. Parasitic means you are not getting introduced to new customers. The touch points now come from people already in your funnel. This is because reviews show up in Google and YouTube when people search “Brand + Review” and the initial exposure has already finished. Reviews do not build your funnel after the initial burst, but reviews do help convert your funnel by adding trust.
There are two options here for brand building and driving sales.
Advertise the review if it is from a trusted authority in the space that will also create non-branded content. This lets you advertise to people in your funnel who have not converted yet. It relies on the name and brand of the authority that did the review. If they are not actually an authority figure, it won’t work.
Pro-tip: Advertise their review to audience demographics that are fans or customers of your competitors. This trust can convert this to your company from your competitors.
One thing to keep in mind is to make sure the partner also creates non-branded content. If they only want to do reviews that intercept your own traffic, they are low value even if they have a million followers. Give the partners that have trust and will grow your company the ad spend instead. There are a lot of reasons for this, but that is for a different post.
Take non-branded content (no review or coupon) and advertise it to people looking for solutions.
If you have partners that creates “how to guides” like “how to file your taxes”, “how to bookkeep as a small business owner”, “how to increase email deliverability” and they feature your products without including your brand in the title, headers, etc… they are the gold mine affiliates for your company.
People actively search these topics in the B2C and B2B spaces. By being featured as a solution within their content, the audience is introduced or reintroduced to your brand, and the affiliate builds trust while driving sales for you.
As a bonus, these phrases normally cost a fraction of the price compared to bidding on “accounting software” or “best book keeping systems” in PPC campaigns. Using the affiliate’s content as your landing page or ad for these informational queries can build audience trust and convert mid-funnel solution seekers. And just like above, you are growing the relationship with your partner.
As an added bonus, your conversion rates may increase because the demo adds proof that your solution works. It can also share why the customer should go with you vs. a competitor.
Your product or service solves the potential customer’s problems whether it is a soap that doesn’t leave a slimy feeling on your hands, a software connector that syncs two systems, or a pillow that lets you sleep while on a plane.
You Can Use PPC if You’re in Restricted Niches
One of the best reasons to advertise your affiliates content is that it is a work around when you’re blocked from using traditional PPC and social media ad platforms. Anything from alcohol to lingerie, medical supplements or even real estate.
Almost every major publication, new station, and aggregators are now active affiliates. I share some examples below.
If you cannot run ads directly to your website because it is a restricted niche, get yourself featured in lists or within articles where you are interviewed as a subject matter expert. These publications can be advertised on those platforms and for queries that the article solves even if your company cannot. This includes listcicles, FAQs, and comparisons.
Gain Major Media Features & Brand Partnerships
Media outlets need to make money, and they do this by selling ad space, advertorials, affiliate links, and co-marketing campaigns.
Healthline, CNN, RollingStone, Forbes, Travel Booking Sites, etc… All of them incorporate affiliate links into their content or sales flows, and some have dedicated sections or categories specifically for affiliate links.
If you’ve ever booked international travel and been prompted to apply for a visa or renew your passport, you’re likely seeing affiliate links. I know because I cut deals when I managed an affiliate program for a visa company with some of the largest hotel and flight booking sites in the world.
By approaching the right person you can cut a deal where they give you exposure if you’ll drive traffic to them. The company makes money on commissions and grows their audience. And you benefit from the highly qualified people who are already in their sales funnel and become new customers for your company.
As an added bonus, by being featured in a listcicle or problem solving piece of content you can use their websites ability to optimize for SEO bringing you long term traffic and sales. Type in “best” and a product type into Google. You’ll see a ton of affiliate listcicles everywhere.
On top of the SEO benefit, you can likely feature their the logo in your “as seen in” section to build trust with new customers, and you look like a hero to the c-suite when your channel is growing the brand while making money.
You Take Your Competitors Business
When you build the loyalty of a content creator that does not rely on branded traffic, you get the traffic and sales. This is one of the reasons you do not want to focus on review and end of sale affiliates, they rely on your traffic, not the other way around.
The website or video channels that show up for the “how to” and informational queries in your industry control who gets their traffic. They also control which service providers and stores they feature.
When you advertise their content you’re helping build their audience and their loyalty. Once that relationship is cemented, you can block your competitors because the content creator will not have a reason to work with them.
Now as a person is searching for another solution, they’re going to rediscover your brand again as the next pieces of content show up. The person may not be a new to file customer, but the content is bringing the customer back because the affiliate re-introduced you in the top of the new sales funnel. This is especially important for dying brands or ones that have become stagnant.
You are being reintroduced to previous customers, re-engage current customers, and showing you are more than what the person previously new which grows your brand and bottom line. It can also lead to upsells for new tools, upgrades and increased access levels. The person may not have known it was available, so this content just saved you from losing a customer to a competitor.
If your company is mostly sharing ambassador and influencer content because they paid media fees, your company is missing out on the big picture. Influencers and ambassadors are supposed to have their own traffic they send to you. If you share top-funnel affiliate content, you’re giving content creators a reason to create more content you don’t have to pay upfront for, and you’re actively building sustainable traffic for the long term success of your company. This helps your company grow and succeed. And that is why you should consider sharing or advertising affiliate content instead of only sharing ambassador and influencer content.